While building upper body strength and achieving a well-defined physique, it is essential to incorporate the best triceps exercises into your workout routine, including triceps dumbbell exercises. The triceps comprise three heads: lateral, long and medial, and are often neglected despite playing a critical role in upper body development. By making an effort to train your triceps, you can target and strengthen these muscles. This will lead to improved performance in various exercises and enhanced aesthetics, which is always great. 

This article will explore a range of effective triceps exercises that can easily be incorporated into your workout routine. We will also highlight exercises that specifically target the triceps, like tricep head exercises and tricep lateral head exercises. By the end of our guide, you should find yourself equipped with the knowledge you need to maximise your triceps’ growth and strength. Additionally, we will also take a look at the importance of balanced training by including biceps and triceps compound exercises to ensure overall upper body symmetry.  

So, let’s dive in and discover the most effective ways to train your triceps and achieve impressive arm strength and definition.

Anatomy and function of the triceps 

best triceps exercises
Image Credits: Courtesy Pexels/@Josef Pascal

Before taking a look at the best triceps exercises, let’s first dissect the meaning of the word: tri = three and cep = head. Located at the back of the upper arm, the triceps are a powerful muscle group consisting of three heads: the lateral head, the long head and the medial head. These three heads work together to provide strength, stability and control while you make various upper-body movements. 

Extending the elbow joint is the primary function of the triceps which is essential for making movements such as pushing, punching and throwing. Additionally, the triceps play a crucial role in the stabilisation of the arm and shoulder during exercises.

It is essential to understand the anatomy and function of the triceps to effectively target and train this muscle group. By incorporating specific triceps exercises into your workout routine, you will be able to achieve optimum triceps development, improve arm strength and even enhance overall upper-body performance. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of those exercises. 

The best triceps exercises for men 

There are several benefits of strengthening and training your triceps. Strong triceps not only enhance your pushing power (which then benefits the rest of your workouts), but they also help to maintain proper form as well as prevent injuries while you are making upper body movements. Here are some exercises that will help you maximise the strength and form of your triceps. 

Tate Press

Looking for the best triceps exercises? This is a great one to start your workout with.

The Tate Press is a relatively lesser-known exercise when it comes to triceps training. However, it happens to be a pretty effective one. It is performed by lying on a bench with dumbbells in both hands. Next, you have to bring the dumbbells together at chest level before extending your arms up. You must keep your elbows tucked while doing this exercise. This exercise specifically targets the triceps’ long head and provides a unique stimulus to your muscles. 

Triceps Kickback with Resistance Band

For this exercise, you need to attach a resistance band to a stationary object and hold the other end of the band in one hand. Start by bending forward from the hips. Now keep your upper arm parallel to the ground and from this position extend it backwards till it is fully straightened. The resistance band will add constant tension throughout the movement which makes this a great exercise for triceps isolation.

Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown

Sometimes, it’s good to switch things up a bit and change your workouts. That’s what you’ll be doing with this one. Try using an underhand or reverse grip for this exercise instead of using the traditional overhand grip on a cable machine for triceps pushdowns. Keeping your palms facing upward, grasp the cable attachment. Then perform the pushdown motion by extending your arms downward. This grip variation places emphasis on the medial head of the triceps, thereby providing a different activation platform. 

Zottman Skull Crusher

This exercise is a combination of two classic movements: the skull crusher and the bicep curl. This compound exercise engages both the triceps and the biceps, providing a challenging and effective workout for both muscle groups. You begin by performing a regular skull crusher, lowering the weight toward the forehead while keeping your elbows stationary. Then, at the bottom of the movement, rotate the wrists so that the palms face upward and perform a bicep curl. As you basically get to do one of the best biceps and triceps exercises at the same time, it’s highly beneficial to include it in your workout. 

Dumbell Triceps Pushaway

This is one of the most effective triceps exercises to target the lateral head.

Start by standing upright, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Use both hands and take hold of a dumbbell and grip it with both palms facing upward. Bring the dumbbell up to shoulder level, while keeping the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep the upper arms parallel to the ground and your forearms perpendicular. Now extend your arms straight out in front of you, push the dumbbell away from your body and keep your elbows close to your sides while maintaining control throughout the movement. Hold the extended position for a brief period and keep the focus on the tension in your triceps. Now slowly bring the dumbbell back towards your body by bending your elbows, and return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise 8 to 12 times (depending on the weights) to complete the set.  

The Overhead Dumbbell Extension

When looking for the best triceps exercises that target the lateral head, the Overhead Dumbbell Extension is another great option.

With both palms facing upwards, hold a dumbbell with both hands. Now raise it overhead with your arms fully extended. Lower the dumbbell slowly behind your head by bending your elbows while keeping your arms stationary. Take a brief pause and then raise the dumbbell back up by straightening your elbows. This exercise works the triceps lateral head effectively and can be adjusted using different dumbbell weights. Just keep your focus on maintaining proper form and control throughout the movement.

The Triceps Kickback

Performing dumbbell exercises for your triceps is a great way to train them. The triceps kickback is one such dumbbell exercise to incorporate into your workout.

Stand with the dumbbell in your right hand, lean forward (with your left foot forward) and bend your right elbow to 90 degrees. Now extend your right arm straight back, squeezing the triceps, and hold briefly before returning to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then switch arms. This exercise helps strengthen and tone the triceps, particularly the lateral head. Choose a suitable dumbbell weight and focus on maintaining proper form throughout the movement.


In conclusion, it is crucial to incorporate the best triceps exercises into your workouts to maximise your upper body strength and achieve toned arms. Whether you prefer to perform the classic close-grip bench press or wish to add some spice with lesser-known exercises like a Tate press, you have a wide array of options to choose from.

So, say goodbye to the dreaded ‘bingo wings’ and say hello to sculpted triceps that could easily rival Popeye’s forearms. Just keep in mind that consistency and proper form are key to achieving long-term results.

(Hero and feature image credits: Pexels/Sinitta Leunen) 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Which exercise works on all 3 triceps heads?

Answer: The Close-Grip Bench Press and Skull Crushers target all three triceps heads. The Close-Grip Bench Press primarily targets the triceps while also engaging the chest and shoulders. The Skull Crushers primarily target the triceps and effectively engage all three heads of the triceps.

Question: Which triceps head should I train first?

Answer: When it comes to training the triceps, there is no such specific rule on what triceps head should be trained first. The order of exercises can vary depending on individual preferences, goals, and training style. But, the most common approach is starting with compound exercises that engage multiple triceps heads before moving onto isolation exercises targeting specific heads

Question: Do triceps strengthen faster than biceps?

Answer: Biceps and triceps strengthen at varying rates for person to person depending on several factors like genetics, frequency and consistency of your workouts and training intensity. In general terms, biceps and triceps are muscles of similar size and composition. So, their potential of strength gains is relatively comparable. Compound workouts like bench presses and overhead presses, which demand a lot of upper body strength and lead to quicker gains in total strength, are beneficial for the triceps. Biceps workouts, on the other hand, tend to be more isolated and frequently use less weight, which could impede down progress.

Question: Which is the best triceps exercise to do with dumbbells?

Answer: The dumbbell triceps extension, sometimes referred to as the dumbbell skull crusher, is one of the best triceps workouts you can do with dumbbells. With your arms extended above your chest and a dumbbell in each hand, lie on a bench or the floor. While maintaining your upper arms still, lower the dumbbells towards your forehead by bending your elbows. After a brief pause, straighten your elbows and raise your arms back up to the beginning position. By using various dumbbell weights for development, this exercise can be customised to target the triceps, in particular the long head. Keep your composure and good form throughout the action.

written by.

Mansidak Kaur

Mansidak is a whimsical wordsmith who finds solace in the pages of her books and dances with inspiration to create enchanting poetry. She has also left her mark on the realms of fashion and lifestyle while contributing to L'Officiel India and FHM India magazines. When not writing, you'll find her in the kitchen, either baking or making tea for herself. A quirky personality, she delights in dreaming up magical worlds and contemplating the complexities of the universe.
Best Triceps Exercises For Men To Maximise Arm Strength And Definition
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